Late Autumn Longing, Love in Dresden

Publish Time:2017-02-24 10:53:00Source:World Tourism Cities Magazine

【Introduction】:Before coming to Germany, I hardly knew anything about it. I didn’t watch soccer, I wasn’t a fan of beer or sausage,and I seldom used German products. The extent of my knowledge was nothing more than the simplicity of WWI and II portrayed in history books and the stereotypical characteristics of Germans being “strict,” “punctual,” and “high-quality product manufactures.”

Late Autumn Longing, Love in Dresden

Before coming to Germany, I hardly knew anything about it. I didn’t watch soccer, I wasn’t a fan of beer or sausage,and I seldom used German products. The extent of my knowledge was nothing more than the simplicity of WWI and II portrayed in history books and the stereotypical characteristics of Germans being “strict,” “punctual,” and “high-quality product manufactures.” Yet I still decided to study abroad in Dresden, the famous city of former East Germany, a city unbeknownst to most Chinese. My choice to go to Dresden was a twist of fate, leaving an everlasting mark on my life. My life in Germany, and Europe for that matter, all began with Dresden. Although I had already moved, Dresden had become like my second hometown, etched into the bottom of my heart.

In many people’s eyes, during the autumn and winter seasons Europe is lacking in beauty for tourists. On thecontrary, I only love the autumn days of Dresden. Furthermore, late autumn in Dresden is all the more rich and diverse, giving off another kind of sensation.

Part One: The First Autumn

If one knows that they will stay in a city for one to two years or even longer then it is very possible that they will not be inclined to explore it. Dresden is the capital of Saxony, a state that is home to abundant nature, historical relics, and natural resources. Additionally, Dresden is at a geographically favourable position close to the border of three countries: Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Holding a special student pass issued by the state, on weekends when the weather was nice and we didn’t have much to do, we would often steal away to the beautiful smaller towns in the surrounding areas of Dresden.

Zittau is a small town located right on the national border of Germany. A landmark coveted by many, Zittau was historically at the center of many conflicts between military commanders and constantly experiencing change of ownership. However, our purpose for visiting this small town on the border was simply for the experience and not for the historical relics that it is famous for. On Sundays it was rare to see many people walk about on the streets. On such a day I would be guided by a master who was familiar with the roads of the town, passing through fields and alleys. Suddenly, a crystal clear lake was right before my eyes. It was surrounded by soaring mountains, grassy meadows, and a sandy shore. Slowly and leisurely, three to five swans moved back and forth with the waves on the lake. Time seemed to stand at a still, as if I was having an out-of-body experience.

Indeed, nothing could compare to relaxing like this on the weekend.

I still must recommend the small towns of Pillnitz, Meissen, and Moritzburg as they are all great places to spend the weekend at. Pillnitz is a small town located within 30 kilometres of Dresden and combines Chinese-style palaces with Europeanstyle gardens. Small yet rich in art culture, the town of Meissen is home to exquisite European porcelain. Lastly, the town of Moritzburg is home to the towering and magnificent Moritzburg Castle.

What's even greater than these cities is Saxon Switzerland National Park, a place that Dresden residents and those of surrounding areas alike love to take a walk in. The Saxon Switzerland National Park is known for its wildly eroded landscape of Elbe sandstone formations, the Bastei, and each season having its own distinct scenery. Even walking down the numerous paths three, four, or even five times in one year wouldn't be enough to take it all in.

These surrounding areas of Dresden which we had wandered through together witnessed all of our newcomer antics and care-free attitudes.

Dresden is a student metropolis. The wellknown Technical University of Dresden (TU Dresden) alone has over ten thousand students, plus a total of eight different fields of application and art academies. In addition to local students at TU Dresden, there are also a large number of international students. In order to help the foreign population integrate into society and promote interaction between different groups, the government, schools, and student organizations have worked together to establish several longterm organizations that host interactional and communicative exchange activities on regular basis.

Amongst the many projects responsible for creating activities is a project known as “Linkpartner.” Linkpartner is a strict organization that benefits students, organizing activities that are fewer in number but richer in content. The first activity created by Linkpartner was a peaceful and enchanting trip to the aforementioned Saxon Switzerland National Park on an autumn day when the weather couldn’t be more perfect and the odds couldn’t be better. It wasn’t my first time going to Saxon Switzerland National Park, but as I took a completely different route I came to have a completely different experience. We walked across the open plains, helped each other climb up the mountain crevices, and climbed up rocks and trees to take all kinds of silly photographs. Forming groups we played stand-off games in the dead-leave strewn forest, running here and there and calling out like a group of young children.

Each one of my life stages in Germany has their very own significance, just like how every autumn season is different from the last.

Part Two: The Second Autumn

I like the autumn of October/November not only because the weather is beautiful and the scenery magnificent, but also because I feel that my life ushers in good news and good fortune with the changing of the seasons. It is like heaven is specifically sending encouragement, telling you that it is time to start the autumn harvest and the winter storage. In other words, it’s time to start putting aside some savings.

Dresden has many colleges and universities, their library resources are also very abundant and outstanding. As long as is not exam season, even if there are many students, one would still often fantasize the vast and empty library belonging solely to themselves, with a large number of resources allocated to a small number of people. The high-end Saxon State and University Library Dresden (Die SächsischeL andesbibliothek--Staats--und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden, a.k.a. SLUB), which also serves as the library of TU Dresden, is both my favourite and most frequented place. As I went very often, I came to have my own fixed spot and even had an SLUB study buddy. We would regularly go to SLUB together to write our thesis. In addition to the rich collection of books and historical relics in the library’s collection, there are also a lot of study spaces and seating. SLUB even has its own dining room that can supply coffee and refreshments. At SLUB one can study, watch movies,read books for fun, have group discussions, and do language exchange. When I taught foreign language part-time, a lot of supplementary materials that I used were borrowed from there. The SLUB building itself is simple, dignified and highly functional. The large pillars, all neatly lined in a row, are each precisely accented under the light of the setting sun, an artistic scene to behold and one which I always could not help but take pictures of. Often while swamped with my studies, I would lose myself staring at one of the corners or scenery details. The whole building is surrounded by a protective ring of trees and a vast stretching garden, detached from the earth and content by itself. As far as I am concerned, although SLUB has a feeling of being profoundly solemn, it is also ardently lively from the young life and ideologies within.

Near my residence was the library belonging to the Dresden University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden, a.k.a. HTW). Compared with SLUB, HTW was much more compact. All the universities and colleges share their resources, one does not need to swipe an access card to enter (you just need one to borrow books). When I went there to read books or study I was not in the least bit obstructed.

Part Three: The Third Autumn

Autumn 2015: my third autumn in Germany. After living two years in the “German countryside” I moved to the “Big City” – Frankfurt: the "World’s Financial Center." I earned a meagre internship salary, yet suddenly found myself with more opportunities to travel to places which I couldn’t have before. However, I did not expect that within six months of leaving Dresden the reason for my first return would be a business trip–I was to return to my alma mater and give a lecture at the company-sponsored student event. On the evening that I had just arrived, I stood in front of the window in my hotel overlooking the familiar shopping district. With mixed feelings I grazed across Prague Avenue, across the main railway station diagonally opposite to where I had lived for nearly two years, and I looked up at the very floor on which I had lived. Thinking of my work the next day and the get-together afterwards with old friends had me quite excited.

However, despite all of this I slept very well that night, perhaps it was because I was finally home.

Late autumn is the season of harvest, also one when the leaves fall back to their roots. It is the season of longing and loneliness, waiting for the wind to blow away the last remaining leaf. Perhaps it is indeed like the poem that goes, when people are young they do not know the taste of worry, yet they exaggerate their feelings to manage a sad “autumn” song. However, one has no way of knowing how many an autumn they’ll be spending drifting about foreign lands. Once I knew the taste of worry, before returning to my roots, I was inclined to return to Dresden and collect the autumn leaves while bidding farewell.

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